Game Notes: Designated Players Propel Lions to 3-1 Win over West Brom
Orlando Citrus Bowl – Orlando, Florida
ORLANDO – July 15, 2015 – All three of Orlando City’s Designated Players found the back of the net in the same game for the first time this season, as the Lions delivered a clinical performance for the 15,172 fans in attendance at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, defeating English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion FC 3-1.
The victory marked the Lions’ third win in nine international friendlies against high level teams in five years – previously defeating Newcastle United 1-0 and Brazilian Serie A side Ponte Preta 3-2 at the Citrus Bowl.
After going down early due to Calum McManaman’s finish in the 13th minute, Orlando rallied in the first half, leading to a spectacular finish from playmaker Kaká. After receiving the ball just inside the center circle from Carlos Rivas, the Brazilian turned and powered his way through West Brom’s half for a powerful 45-yard run before firing the ball into the far corner.
Two minutes into the second half, Rivas provided the game-winning goal for Orlando. After setting up Kaká’s finish, the Colombian curled a strong free-kick from 30-yards away into the top corner at the near-post.
Bryan Róchez added the final blow in the 86th minute, tucking away Pedro Ribeiro’s well-placed ball past goalkeeper Boaz Myhill. The finish was Róchez’s second for City this season, previously scoring against Ponte Preta in a friendly earlier this season.
“I’m delighted. I thought we were excellent,” said head coach Adrian Heath. “I look at the team at the end, we had five guys under 20 years old on the field. Kaka got a great goal, reminiscent of about 1997. It looks like we’re all okay apart from Harrison, we’ll have a look at how he is in the morning. It looks like we’ve come through pretty unscathed.”
3’ In his first appearance with the Lions since returning from the FIFA U-20 World Cup, Bryan Róchez nearly gave Orlando an early lead. While running on to a well-timed clip from Harrison Heath, Róchez outpaced his marker and rolled it under the goalkeeper, however his strike was cleared off the line.
13’ The visitors would open the scoring on a quick counter-attack when Calum McManan surged deep in Orlando’s box and hit a deflected effort that snuck into the back of the net.
24’ With West Brom content to sit back deep in their own half with two compact lines of four, Orlando City held the majority of possession throughout the early stages of the game, continuously probing to find an equalizer.
29’ Heading into halftime, Orlando suffered a blow when Heath went down with an injury. Tommy Redding was brought on as his replacement – marking the Homegrown player’s first game in purple this season.
45 (+2) In the final minute of the half, Orlando responded with an efficient counter-attack of their own. Beginning with Donovan Ricketts, the Lions only needed two passes to find the back of the net, as Kaká ventured on a powerful 45 yard run before blasting the ball into the bottom corner.
46’ Heath made three substitutions to begin the second half, bringing on Earl Edwards Jr., Conor Donovan and Pedro Ribeiro for Donovan Ricketts, Aurélien Collin and Kaká.
48’ Two minutes into the half, the Lions moved ahead when Carlos Rivas curled a strong free-kick into the top the corner from 30-yards away, showcasing one of the best finishes so far this season for Orlando.
54’ Rivas continued to cause problems for the Premier League side shortly afterward, creating golden opportunities for both Tommy Redding and Danny Mwanga with threatening crosses into the box.
68’ A series of combination plays from City throughout the midfield led to a long distance effort from Pedro Ribeiro that skimmed just wide of the target.
80’ With 10 minutes remaining, Orlando was conservative in their efforts to progress as they kept hold of their 2-1 lead.
86’ Orlando continued its attacking efficiency in the waning moments of the game, when Róchez ran on to Ribeiro’s ball and slotted it into the back of the net to give City a two goal lead.
90 (+3) The referee blew the final whistle, resulting in a strong 3-1 win for Orlando.